Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Virtual

Contact: Democratic Services  Email:


No. Item


Welcome and Apologies for Absence

To welcome attendees and receive any apologies for absence.


Apologies were received from Sunita Mills, Somerset Council and Darren Hewlett, Dartline Coaches.



Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 106 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 30th April 2024 as an accurate representation of the meeting.


The minutes of the meeting held on 30 April 2024 were approved.



Public Question Time

To receive any public questions or statements submitted three clear working days in advance of the meeting.


Questions were received from William Green and David Redgewell. The questions submitted and responses provided are as follows:


Question 1

I live in Coxley and frequently catch the 374 and 375 services. I've noticed many of them seem to show the wrong destination on the front of the buses. I often see Glastonbury or Wells written on the front of buses going to Bristol or heading off to Taunton/Bridgwater. Can this please be changed as people are finding it very confusing with some thinking they have to change bus?


Response 1

We have raised this with First West of England and asked them to review their destination displays.


Question 2

Can you please update the Public Transport stakeholders in Somerset and Dorset on the promised portable toilet facilities that Councillor Adam Dance told us the council was going to install including disabled access toilets and baby changes facilities. 


Yeovil is a very important public transport hub in South West England for the bus network in Somerset and Dorset by all the following: First Group plc, South Buses Division, Wales and West Buses, South West Coaches Rail link, the bus service to Yeovil Pen Mill for First Group plc, Greater Western Trains Company Ltd, GWR First Group plc, MTR South Western Railway Company,  Yeovil Junction railway station, coach services by Berry's Coaches to London Hammersmith and Taunton for Megabus, Scottish City link coaches and the Flixbus coaches network. 


Are there any plans to reopen the bus and coach station cafe as a community café, working with bus and coach operators, First Group plc, South West Coaches Group and community groups similar to the Yeovil Pen Mill Railway station café?


Response 2

The toilets had to close due to the Council’s financial position, following a decision taken at Full Council, and the town council not being able to take this on. We are not aware of any funding for temporary facilities at present.


Question 3a

In view of the issues of reliability and Punctuality on Somerset bus and coach Network, what discussions are taking place with the Somerset Highway Authority, North Somerset Council, Highways Authority BANES Council, Highways Authority West of England, the mayoral combined transport Authority and Bristol City Council Highways Authority, over road works and divisionary routes for bus and coach services and shuttle buses service to serve villages cut off from the bus and coach network?


An example being the Bristol bus and coach station to Bristol Temple Meads station, Totterdown, Knowle, Hengrove, Whitchurch, Pensford, Clutton, Farrington Gurney, Chewton Mendip, Wells bus and coach station, Glastonbury, Street, Walton to Bridgwater railway station and bus and coach station, Taunton Town Centre services 374 and 375 and connections at Wells bus and coach station for Glastonbury, Street, Somerton, Ilchester and Yeovil bus and coach services 77.


Response 3a

Each Highway Authority should be publishing a list of forthcoming planned works which can be used to identify any works or road closures of concern. Within Somerset all planned road closure routes are  ...  view the full minutes text for item 60.


Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) Update

To receive a verbal update.


The Service Commissioning Manager for Passenger Transport, Natasha Bates advised that following approval via the Council’s internal governance, the final version of the BSIP for 2024 was submitted to the Department for Transport (DfT) to meet the 12 June 2024 deadline and a copy would shortly be available on the Council’s website. Local Transport Authorities were also required to submit a Bus Connectivity Assessment (BCA) by this date and having met both targets, the final tranche of the BSIP funding would now be released.


She thanked everyone who had engaged in the process and who had provided very useful feedback. She also acknowledged that the operators had had to provide a large amount of data in a short period of time. Going forward, it is expected that that the BCA is likely to be an annual process so the plan will be to build the data requirement into the quarterly requests, making it a more manageable task.


Councillor Dave Mansell queried whether the definition of “core network” had been addressed in the final version of the BSIP as without it, it would be difficult to understand what the plan was trying to achieve and the routes covered. In response, the Service Commissioning Manager explained that the core network would be established as the Local Transport Plan(LTP) was developed as it is supposed to reflect the LTP.


Timetable Changes proposed for 2nd September 2024

Operators to present their proposals.


Rebecca Mantyk of First South West provided an update. With the aid of a PowerPoint presentation, some of the points made included the following:

  • Passenger numbers across Somerset slightly up on last year but with the bank holidays and the date of Easter this year it makes it a little harder to judge.
  • The £1.50 fare introduced on 1st June has not yet resulted in any material impact, although it is very early days.
  • Have seen improvements in customer lost miles in last few weeks due to many incentives including a change of management of the engineering function.
  • Have kept a spare vehicle in Yeovil and a mobile engineer.
  • Continue to work closely with the Council and the bus user groups.
  • Are rolling out a leadership programme for supervisors with the focus on delivering brilliant basics every day.


Terrance James of First South West provided an update on the timetable changes proposed for September 2024:

  • Service 7 – Extend to Taunton Station but reduce frequency from 60 minutes to 75 minutes.
  • Service 25 – Reestablish links to Milverton.
  • Service 28A – Reinstate the Saturday only 16.30 service Taunton to Minehead. Will replace the 16.00 service and not serve Norton Manor Camp.
  • Services 2, 4, 6, 14 & X22 – There will be timetable tweaks to achieve enhanced reliability on these services.


The Chair requested that where bus services were less frequent, ie, a couple of hours between them, could the more reliable buses be used on these routes to avoid breakdowns on these less frequent services. Terrance James responded that this could be given consideration.

Councillor Dave Mansell requested that as the change to Service 25 did not involve a timetable change, could it be implemented right away? In response, Terrance James advised that they hoped to implement some of these changes sooner rather than later as it will be a benefit to passengers.

In response to questions, First South West advised:

  • Improved reliability will be down to revision of timetables and resources.
  • The extension of Service 7 to a 75-minute timetable is not ideal but it is the best solution for the time being in order to serve the railway station and will be reviewed.
  • The capacity on Service 28A is a concern and will give consideration to making it a direct service.
  • The increase of wheelchair spaces will be considered as part of the spec for the new electric vehicles.


Dan Ashworth from First West of England provided an update as follows:

  • Service D2 – Bath to Frome frequency to approx. 30 minutes. Some journeys will no longer serve Rode and during daytime will terminate at Christchurch in Frome.
  • Service D2X – There are route changes and it will no longer serve Beckington.

·        Services 171, 173 & 174 – Departure times changed on most journeys. Some early and late trips on Services 173 & 174 and will be replaced by Service 171 due to low demand.


Update from Operators on £1.50 fare, National £2 fare and any other relevant updates

To receive any updates from operators.


The Service Manager for Transporting Somerset, John Perrett advised there were no further updates at the moment regarding the £1.50 fare and are managing to maintain the number of people travelling on this fare. The government £2 fare continues to December and all operators in Somerset are continuing to offer this fare and there has been an increase of approximately 19% in patronage. 



Update from the Chair of the Bus User and Stakeholders Group

To receive a verbal update.


The Chair of the Bus User and Stakeholders Group, Peter Travis, provided an update. He made the following comments:


  • Appreciates the engagement with the Council, First South and First West of England to discuss the proposed changes and existing issues and that they have listened and implemented some of the User Groups requests.
  • There have been 40 bus stalls across Somerset to distribute bus timetables. This is far more than in any other local authority in England. The plan is to hold 80 stalls in total, mainly in September following the timetable changes.
  • Bus users need to have printed timetables as many do not have access to the online versions.
  • Some operators print the timetables for the User Groups to distribute on the local bus stalls.
  • The First South (Buses of Somerset) booklet is very popular.
  • Other operators that print timetables for distribution by the User Groups include First West of England, Faresaver, South West Coaches and Hatch Green.
  • Somerset Bus Partnership have printed and distributed over 20k timetables this year. To fund this, the Partnership has to raise funds.
  • Following the September timetable changes, most information at bus stops will either be absent or out of date.
  • In neighbouring authorities, the Council takes ownership of updating the timetables at bus stops. As this does not happen in Somerset it is important that major operators alert the media and use social media to warn bus users of the changes.
  • There will be 20 bus stalls in operation on 1 and 2 September across Somerset to assist with the promotion of these changes.


At the conclusion of this update, the following comments were made:


  • The Somerton Slinky route needs to be publicised in order to make it work. A lot has already been done – press, leaflets, Facebook  - but to keep the service going it must be publicised and used and this will avoid the reliance on cars.
  • The bus stop timetables at the BANES and North Somerset borders are either missing or out of date. The information needs to be updated on all these stops. Dan Ashworth of First West of England confirmed that these would be printed this week and the updates at the bus stops will be made as soon as possible.


Any Other Business

To raise any other relevant issues from the Chair or Board members.


There was none.


Date of Next Meeting

To note that the next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday 15 October 2024 at 10.00am.


The date of the next meeting was noted as being Tuesday, 15 October 2024 at 10.00 am.